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Jets Might Go for a Run Today vs. the Bills

Posted Oct 3, 2010

No player on the Jets has stood out more during their 2-1 start than Mark Sanchez. The second-year passer has been the story early, but the Jets’ rush attack is ranked ninth and is averaging 132.7 yards on the ground heading into today’s divisional matchup with the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

“Ninth in the league out of 32 teams — that’s pretty good,” said RB Shonn Greene, who’s averaged 3.5 yards on his 30 carries. “We’re not on the pace we were last year, but it’s still the beginning of the season and we have a lot more weapons, we have a lot of other things we can do. But I think it’s going pretty well.”

While Greene can wear down a defense with his relentless pounding, LaDainian Tomlinson continues to impress with his ability to use his excellent vision and feet to find and create space. Still an explosive player, Tomlinson is averaging 5.6 yards a carry and is on pace for a 1,100-yard season.

“A lot of the credit goes to the offensive line because they allow me to get up on the safeties and get through that first wave of defenders,” Tomlinson said of his long gainers. “It’s something that running backs cherish, and they’ve allowed me to do that. Then at that point I can really use my ability to pick and choose my holes, make people miss and get some tough yards.”

Last year the Jets gashed the Bills for 567 yards on the ground and averaged 6.8 yards a carry. Buffalo somehow managed a split, though, taking advantage of Sanchez’s five interceptions at the old Meadowlands stadium last October as a 318-yard rushing total was wasted.

But there have been more than a few changes on both sides of the ball since then. RB Thomas Jones, who had 210 of those yards, is in Kansas City, and Leon Washington, who picked up 99 in that first meeting, is in Seattle. The Bills converted to a 3-4 front, but they still haven’t had much success containing the run as they rank just 27th (141 yards per game) and they just surrendered 200 yards on the ground to the Patriots.

“They’re a fast-flowing defense,” Greene said of the unit that will be missing a pair of starters in DE Marcus Stroud and LB Andra Davis. “They run to the ball and that’s when we know to use our zone running to try to get them running overhead and then get some cutback lanes.”

“There’s things that we feel like we can do running the ball. We feel like we can run the ball against anybody,” said offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. “It’s kind of one of the things that we do. But we know it won’t be easy going up there to Buffalo.”

The Bills should get a boost as ILB Paul Posluszny will return to the lineup and they plan on containing Tomlinson and Greene.

"Stopping the run is our major point of emphasis as a defense this week," said Posluszny in the Buffalo News. "They're an excellent running team with a good, physical offensive line, two fullbacks who can block and two excellent running backs that run really hard.”

Opposing defenses face a dilemma. If the Bills load up to stop the run, an ever-improving Sanchez will likely find a matchup he likes with TE Dustin Keller working the middle in addition to a capable wideout corps (that will only get better when Santonio Holmes returns from suspension next week).

“I think we’re pretty balanced," Sanchez said. "What are we?’ I think there are going to be games where one side needs to pick up the other. The last couple of weeks we’ve thrown the heck out of the ball and done well with it. This could be the week, or it might not be. Hopefully it’s in the playoffs and we’re in a playoff game, and we have to rush for 300 yards in the cold, in the snow or something. That’s the way we feel. We want to be balanced, but I wouldn’t sleep on our running game.”

It’s not like the rush game has been in hibernation. The Jets just have more ways to beat you, so it’s pick your poison defensively. Sanchez is a better player, but the run game is also more than capable and the boss still prefers to hand it off.

“I’d much rather ground and pound than throw it all the time, but we’re going to win no matter what it takes,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “We expect to throw the ball more this year. We just don’t want to have to do it out of necessity. We want to dictate when we throw, dictate when we run.

“We can do more than just run the ball at you, but if you ask my preference, I’d just as soon run it.”

A 3-1 record at the quarter mark and an early sweep of their three divisional foes would put the Jets in a great position heading into Week 5. The winless Bills will be game this afternoon, and yet it wouldn’t be shocking if the Jets run them over once again.

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